Letter of Transmittal
To: Members of the Board, and Dr. Goff
From: Diana M. Fessler
Date: December 10, 1996
RE: National Standards, Assessments, and Certificates
At the close of the August State Board of Education Retreat, Ms. Purdy asked me to present a twenty minute report on a conference that I had attended earlier that week. As you will recall, I presented an oral report on the work of the National Center on Education and the Economy at the close of our September meeting.
The National Center on Education and the Economy is an organization dedicated to the development of a unified system of education and employment. The National Center's vision is to create a national human resources development system, interwoven with a new approach to governing. This report is a summary of the National Center's agenda, that is, by design and intent, applicable to all states, and it is now being implemented in many of them.
As you are well aware, the Standards for Ohio Schools: Coming Together to Build a Future Where Every Child Counts document is coming up for a vote in the near future. It is riddled with continuous improvement, professional development, diminished authority for local schools boards, school performance standards, a call to "organize" programs according to labor market needs, a provision for worksite-based learning opportunities; all of which dovetail quite nicely with the NCEE agenda.
In preparation for giving the requested report, I outlined the various programs provided by the National Center on Education and the Economy. Over the course of time, the outline expanded to approximately seventy-five pages. Although the original outline was a useful tool for me, it was totally inadequate for submission as a written report due to the lack of formatting and the use of casual grammar and punctuation. While revising that outline, double-checking for accuracy, and creating a more reader-friendly format, this report took shape. For the sake of the children, it is my sincere desire that this report will begin a much needed discussion, and that it will lead to corrective legislative, and corrective regulatory, action.
That corrective action is predicated on first recognizing how successful the National Center on Education and the Economy has been in moving their agenda forward. Collectively, the NCEE/New Standard partners "teach more than half of the public school students in the United States." Accordingly, the NCEE agenda cannot be dismissed as unimportant or irrelevant.
There is no doubt that H.R. 1617 (known as the "Consolidated and Reformed Education, Employment, and Rehabilitation Systems Act" or "CAREERS Act"), and the Senate version of the same bill, S. 143 (The Workforce Development Act of 1995), are extensions of the 1994 School-to-Work Act. They represent the culmination of the NCEE's effort to get Congress to impose The System on all Americans. However, federal control is not needed to put The System in place in every state. The only thing that is needed is the federal money that will become available as a result of the legislation being passed. As an aside, although a very important one, the proposed legislation would have sent the money to the office of the governor, by-passing the General Assembly.
On September 27, 1996, the NCEE plan was temporarily halted from being incorporate into federal law when the Careers Bill was defeated in Conference Committee. Undoubtedly, the bills will be re-introduced in 1997. Nevertheless, much of the plan can be, and is being, implemented under existing laws, regulations, and/or waivers. Unless something is done to stop it, the NCEE agenda will continue to be implemented, albeit on a less expansive scale, to the detriment of our children and grandchildren.
By not bringing forth in-depth information, for and against initiatives such as the NCEEs, state education agency employees - specifically those whose job it is to inform and advise members of the State Board of Education, members of the General Assembly, and the Office of the Governor - have disclosed, by virtue of their silence, that they either don't know what's going on, or they are enabling participants. To narrow the field, and to eliminate the first possibility, I am asking Dr. Goff to distribute this report to his senior staff and the division heads, for their review.
When talking about the need to restructure education, NCEE often makes mention of what they call "leaving one's head at the factory gate" thereby implying that workers have been in the habit of leaving their brains outside of the workplace - to the detriment of business, industry and the economy. However, when proponents of education restructuring are confronted with facts and sound reasoning - the result of not leaving one's head at the gate - they often attempt to label their critics as uninformed or reactionary, and to label their views as mere extrapolation, misunderstanding, supposition, distortion etc. etc. etc. Therefore, to preclude such response, and to foster constructive debate of the facts, this report is heavily footnoted. My personal comments are clearly labeled as Notes.
Because of the complexity of the material and the interwoven nature of the many facets of what I refer to as The System, additional research is needed. Accordingly, this report is a work-in-progress. I recognize that external input will inevitably produce a more comprehensive report. Therefore, I welcome submission of additional information and rebuttals, providing that supporting documentation is included with it.
Your letter of support will be very much appreciated.